We undertook our first practice assessment visit in November 2008. Since then, the Commissioner has established a dedicated Practice Assessment Team, which undertakes around 12 practice visits a year. The purpose of practice assessments is to explore whether an authority's actual practice in dealing with FOI requests complies with its obligations under FOISA and the EIRs, and the guidance in the section 60 and 61 codes of practice issued by Scottish Ministers.
The Commissioner selects public authorities for assessment based on a number of factors. Evidence of any practice issues is important, but the programme also covers as wide a range of sectors as possible. The Commissioner publishes an Assessment Plan every six months, listing those we intend to visit over the following 12 months. Authorities are notified as soon as they are selected - before the list is published.
Our approach to practice assessment, rather than focusing on individual cases, considers practice and compliance by an individual authority in all its FOI dealings. The aim is to work closely with the authority to help them develop practical solutions so problems can be quickly resolved. Patterns of persistent failure may include e.g.
A practice assessment involves three stages:
We publish all our assessment reports and action plans online, at Practice assessment - reporting and action.